Business group has Coakley’s ear
Attorney General Martha Coakley renewed her call this week for revisions to the state’s Green Communities Act, a position that has put her at odds with many in the environmental community but in sync with some of the state’s top business executives.
Coakley first suggested tweaking the Green Communities Act in testimony before a legislative committee back in November. She warned that the cost of implementing the law over the next four years will be $4 billion, resulting in a 7 percent increase in electricity rates.
The attorney general says she wants to reduce those costs and still achieve the original environmental goals. She mentioned in November that she favored “technology-neutral” policies on renewable energy, an approach favored by the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, a group of the state’s top business executives.
Coakley said she had recently talked to executives at EMC Corp. and Raytheon about their energy costs. She said she learned that 30 percent of EMC’s global operations are based in Massachusetts, yet that 30 percent accounts for more than half of the total company’s energy expenditures. She said Raytheon had told her its costs increase a million dollars a year for every one-cent increase in the price of electricity.
“If we don’t address these costs, we are severely limiting your business’s ability to stay here and grow here,” she told the Chamber.
Sources say Coakley met with Joseph Tucci, the chief executive of EMC, and officials from Raytheon on Dec. 22 at EMC headquarters in Hopkinton. Tucci is on the energy committee of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership. Raytheon’s CEO, William Swanson, is a member of the partnership.The business group is proposing that Massachusetts utilities be allowed to use large-scale hydroelectric power from Canada as well as power saved from energy efficiency projects to meet the Green Community Act’s renewable portfolio standards. The group says its approach would save ratepayers $10 billion and achieve the same emissions goals, but environmental activists say the plan would make it much more difficult to develop wind and solar power projects across the state.
Coakley spokesperson Melissa Karpinsky said the attorney general is meeting with a wide range of groups on energy issues, including environmental and business groups. Karpinsky said Coakley supports the Green Communities Act. “She also believes that we must look at ways to make it better by providing further savings for ratepayers and businesses, while maintaining its benefits,” she said.